STOP #16 Nashville, Tenessee - We circled back to the very first campground we EVER stayed in just outside of Nashville proper at Montgomery Bell State Park. Such a beautiful location with campsites along a peaceful river. The pugs loved the water and the wonderful walks. We also made our way back to Cygnus Sound studio to record two new originals and a surprise cover of a song we discovered while in Joshua Tree by the amazing Victoria Williams. We recorded one track with band mates Jen Cimbala and Tina Teske in 2021, so we are almost half the way to the new record! The plan is to pull the rest together by the end of this summer. Caleb Sherman from Cygnus is a genius and so far all tracks sound amazing. Cannot wait to press the vinyl.
STOP #15 Hot Springs, Arkansas - This was an unexpected stop recommended by a friend back home as we traveled across the country on our way back to Nashville. It was a spectacular surprise. Super hip little town doubling as a National Park, with some time travel experiences baked in. The campground was one of the best we visited on our journey. Spacious sites, great amenities and super cool camping neighbors. A sweet couple walked by as we were rehearsing by the fire and introduced themselves. They had an 18 year old pug :). We had a nice talk and hope to reconnect with them when they open their own campsite down the road. Also spent a few hours at the Buckstaff mineral spring. That was the 'back in time' experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it and the entire 2-day stay. Highly recommend Catherine's Landing campground!
STOP #14 Austin, Texas - Back where we started visiting our friend Margaret - this time in her other snowbird location just outside of Austin TX in Dripping Springs - moochdocking once more. We were abe to set up our instruments and practice for an upcoming recording date in Nashville. A song about a friend involved in a tragic event came together in the empty home. We also had a chance to see an amazing Big Thief show at Austin City Limits Moody Theater (incredible live performance!). Took a long bike ride in Zilker Park and caught a crazy brass band extravaganza at the Far Out Lounge. Super cool stop.
STOP #13 Big Bend, Texas - One of the most beautiful stops on our journey, Big Bend had the feel of Joshua Tree 20 years ago. Remote and rugged with raw nature at every turn, we signed up for a gorgous canoe paddle along the border and got lost on our bikes on rock trails somewhere in and around the state park. We stayed at a posh RV camp connected to a golf resort with heated pool and fancy rig neighbors. The pugs loved the big doggie park and we met some interesting fellow travelers.
STOP #12 Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico - The Carlsbad Caverns are said to be one of the most fascinating sites in the US and for good reason. We hiked down the equivalent of over 700 stories to the 8.2 mile 'Big' Room (which is an understatement). We spent more than an hour, meandering and marveling at the many natural wonders. We were awestruck at the majesty and humbled by the history in the shadow of those Cavern walls. It is an experience we will not forget.
STOP #11 Truth or Consequences, New Mexico - One of our fav places on the planet, Riverbend Hot Springs was our next stop after the stress of pug surgeries and freezing temps in AZ. The warmth of 105 degree tubs with a view of the Rio Grande was more than welcome. Lots of soaking and staring at the river helped heal our angsty souls and the visit was both refreshing and rejuvenating. If you are ever in the area DO NOT MISS this amazing retreat. https://riverbendhotsprings.com/
STOP #10 Pearce/Bisbee, Arizona - A friend invited us to moochdock at her rural Arizona spot in the shadow of the Cochise Mountains National Forest. In the mornings we drfited awake to red auburn sunrises and each night we were treated to purple sunsets over black mountains. On the not so lovely side, our littlest pug Rita was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor AND camper queen LuLu had dangerous bladder stones - both needing surgery. Dr. Tyler and her amazing team including Jesus (the pug whisperer) in Bisbee, AZ put the girls back together. We had to stay an extra couple of weeks in AZ as a result but it was all worth it. At our last vet visit, we shared our silly pug shirts and CDs as a thank you for their wonderful care (see left).
STOP #9 Joshua Tree, California – For our month long JT stay, we hooked up with Desert darling Deborah. We parked our rig in her fabulous backyard oasis. Took many beautiful JT Park and 29 Palms hikes. One of the highlights of the stay was the discovery of a nonprofit art and music venue in the high desert called Furstwurld. https://www.furstwurld.org/. Our Furst visit delivered unbelievable performances by Tom Freund and Victoria Williams who simply tore up the stage with deep glorious sound. Amazing! If you havent followed Victoria, do that! Every layer of her discography is wild. Nat fell in love with one of her tracks and has asked to record it. Stay tuned for that! We were also blown away by the creative locals who frequent the open mic and stage in Wonder Valley at a funky oasis called "The Palms' owned by members of the band The Sibley's (think B52s before slick production). You can check them out at this link: https://youtu.be/xs870c7epq0. Every song is a crazy earworm. We are their newest superfans.
STOP #8 Hidden Hills, California - Unexpectedly, we received an invitation from a friend who works with a famous musician, to stay at their luxurious southern California home. Hard to pass up! We packed up and drove from Oregon in 2 days. The gate tender at the entrance was surprised when a 28' vintage camper rolled in and parking the thing there was an adventure all its own. The home was tricked out with walls of guitars, shelves with many Grammys and even an Oscar! The pugs were in heaven in the massive fenced yard, wandering around the pool, seeming quite entitled. Our sweet hostess Sean, introduced us to the best sushi in the area and treated us to a mind-body-boosting juice cleanse. Also had a chance to rehearse in the private studio of award winning greatness. All in all, a spontaneous and fun twist in our travels. Thanks Sean!
STOP #7 Gold Beach, Oregon - Driving down the 101 was so beautiful that we were compelled to stop several times for roadside vista pics. After landing at a quaint private RV park by the ocean with herds of Elk wandering the grounds, Nat tracked down a music venue called Mr. Eds Underground Pub and they had an opening on their calendar for us. If you are traveling through Port Orford do NOT miss this spot. Live music most nights, friendly locals as well as great food and bev choices. The listening room vibe is truly special and worth the trip! Had a great time at the gig. We were joined on stage by talented lead guitarist and bartender Bobby. Super generous audience and wonderful town! Checkout the FB live video clip bottom left :). Also took a fun boat ride with South Coast Tours. It was the very last ride of the season and the guide was engaging and sweet. He extended our tour a bit as we spotted a spout toward the end so he sped back out for a whale sighting. Gorgeous stop and the experience was unparalleled.
STOP #6 Bend, Oregon - After that harrowing travel leg, we finally landed at our first Oregon camp spot at La Pine State Park. Fabulous campground with large sites. A path from our site opens on to the Deschutes River. Wow! Just beautiful. BONUS! A last minute open spot at the Bend Roots Revival magically opened up and we were invited to play :). The event was incredibly well organized and so many of the performers were amazing. Not only did we have a chance to play for a nice crowd, but the fabulous sound staff made our duo sound and feel like a ful band, throwing in echo effects and even launching a bubble machine at one point in our rendition of Space Oddity! Sold some merch and received wonderful feedback from attendees.
STOP #5 Spokane, Washington - Whoa! On our way to Oregon, our new braking system failed, a wheel locked up and caught fire and we lost a tire :(. It was scary and complicated by the fact that we were on a long stretch of Native American Reservation highway with no cell signal. A wonderful couple from Washington State stopped to help and an auto service center we used when in Montana (Triple B) generously and graciously drove an hour at the end of their day to rescue us. We felt incredibly lucky for the kindness of strangers and came through unscathed. Arrived quite late at a KOA in Spokane, WA for a quick overnight before moving on to our destination near Bend, OR. Pugs seemed even more exhausted than we felt. They snored heavily all night.
STOP #4 Swan Lake, Montana - After landing in Swan Lake, MT to moochdock with our friend Margaret at her gorgeous mountain spot, we were invited to play at the beautiful Swan Lake Trading Post Campground at the foot of the hill. Cyclists from all over the world were camped there as part of a tour group and were so appreciative of the music. They sang along and tipped generously. The campground was really pretty, right across the street from Swan lake, and the hosts were welcoming and warm. Also had a chance to visit Glacier National Park where we stayed at a rustic little cabin so small there was nowhere to gate the pugs :). Our second music stop in Montana happened at A Montana Bar. Very fun local spot with killer french dip (Yowza!). We had a blast and the locals were appreciative and generous. We hope to circle back on our next round of travels. Catch a little video snippet shot by the owner Amber at this link: https://fb.watch/fAkyl_vfLL/
STOP #3 Bozeman, Montana - Parked for a couple of days at Bozeman Trail Campground. The staff were welcoming and helpful and we recommend this spot highly for any trip across MT. We also met a fabulous couple from Virgina who were stranded there for a few weeks with truck troubles. They were so sweet and generous. Fed us delicious food and Eric helped us immensely with our camper learning curve. We hope to visit them on the flip side of our journey as we head back east.
STOP #2 Big Sky, Montana - A quick stop en-route at a funky little RV lot called Big Sky in Miles City. On a hot day, the cool swimming pool was a great relief and a wonderful stranger helped us out of a jam. Our hose for the septic hookup was from the 70's and did not match any of the connectors onsite. A helpful gentleman in a sight nearby, re-jiggered our connector which will now allow us to properly use our tanks. The kindness of new friends is one of the reasons we LOVE camping!
STOP #1 Valley City, North Dakota - On the first leg of the trip; we stayed in a sweet little campground at Ashtabula Crossing with a fabulous lake view. There we met a fellow traveler who popped by with her Uke to play by the fire. On our last night, we reached out to the owners of the Labor Club in nearby Valley City. Bonnie, the owner and her social media guru Cameron, generously opened their stage and invited locals to attend. It was a blast and we hope to circle back with the full band down the road.
Pugs posing for Autumn campground brochure
Social Media Guru for the Labor Club in ND modeling a NatalieGaza.com T-shirt. Such great people in ND!
Pugs posing for Autumn campground brochure